[Day 22, Saturday, July 15, 2000]
Peg & Keith Wheeler's Norway trip report, Summer 2000
Forsand - Cruise up to Lysebotn & back on Lysefjord - Prehistoric village at Landa - Visit with the Nag family.
Borrowing the Velle's car again, Peg and Keith drove south on the Highway. We had to be at the dock at Forsand by 10:00 AM to board the Turistruten (tourist route of Rogaland Trafikkselskap) ferry boat that sailed the Lysefjord (Click here for for an online ferry schedule & tour info.) This meant we got to traverse the new bridge we mentioned earlier.
[See: http://www.aas-jakobsen.no/Bridges/References/Lysefjord_Bridge/lysefjord_bridge_e.htm ] Even though we had been here previously, the views were still breathtaking. Again we arrived at the ferry dock early. This has something to do with Keith's insecurity about driving in a foreign country, but any such fears are unfounded in at least this part of Norway. Here the highway is excellent and the traffic is light.
While waiting for the tourist boat we had time to visit with a local artist who had a little shop right on the water's edge. The sun was out but there were scattered clouds, and it was definitely on the cool side. We saw our tour boat approaching from Lauvvik. It was a smaller car ferry with two upper decks. We were told this particular captain was renowned for his descriptive and sometimes humorous commentary, which turned out to be in three languages. The tour had originated in Stavanger, but from Forsand where we joined, it entered the famous Lysefjord. The Lysefjord reaches 25 miles from Høgsfjorden on the west to the village of Lysebotn at the eastern tip. Here a summer road leads further east. How do you describe a scenic wonder? How many superlative adjectives are there in the English language? We had opted for the round trip (over 2 hours each way) which meant we would be in this fjord for the better part of the day.
< Cruising up the Lysefjord
As we started our cruise up the fjord, we, like most on this boat, were trying frantically to capture on film, one magnificent view after another. This was a hopeless task as it was impossible to capture the magnitude of these granite cliffs lining this beautiful body of water. To keep us from droning on like a tour book, we will mention only a few of the many historic and legendary sights. Most people find Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) to be of special interest. It is an 80 foot square, flat top rock jutting out 2,000 feet above the fjord. This has been a destination for tourists for many years. This "must-see" quality might well be related to what Martin Nag was saying in his book. Between 80,000 and 100,000 persons hike the 2 hours to this spot each year. There are no guardrails, nor safety nets, yet no one has ever fallen. As good tourists, we considered visiting this famous spot, but it was Keith's questionable heart and not Martin's skepticism that kept us away.
We had seen many spectacular pictures that had been taken from the top rim. From below on the fjord, this distinctive feature of the rock cliff was dramatic only in how small it appeared. Only with binoculars could you see the tiny specks that were people peering over the edge.
View of Pulpit Rock as we approach from below - see if you can make out the square, block shaped protuberance in upper center. >
There were numerous other points of interest such as the power station which was operative until just last year, with the world's longest wooden stairway of 4,484 steps. The new power station is totally inside the mountain. Further along, there were rocks upon which some of the fjord's 500 seals were seen. We also witnessed some base jumpers who were waiting for the boat's audience to do their parachute jump. What's a base jump without an audience? This WAS pretty spectacular; it was a sheer drop of nearly 3300 feet off of "Kjerag," the highest point along this fjord to a SMALL grassy landing zone at water's edge. By the way, as we understand it, "base jumping" is skydiving from a fixed base, not an airplane. From the top of Kjerag they "free fall" for what must be about 1,000 feet before they open their chute.
We were struck by the presence of a few farms and cabins that clung to the sides on the rare grassy ledges making us rather think of the descriptions in Hamsun's book, Growth of the Soil. There were a very few fortunate farms along the water with enough acreage to graze a small herd of animals. There were also 3 or 4 stops the ferry made on this journey with a few people getting off or on. On a couple of occasions freshly disembarked folks could be seen hiking up the extremely steep trails leading up from the water.
Right on schedule, the ferry pulled up to the quay at Lysebotn at 12:30 PM. This was the end of the line. Most passengers, in cars and buses, were traveling further on. There was a crowd waiting to load up for the return trip. We got off the ferry for a few minutes to stretch our legs and to take some pictures.
< Our ferry docked at Lysebotn
It was clouding up and getting a bit colder on our return trip. The ferry followed the same route but now we were seeing this cruise from a different angle. Yes, we took many photographs -- some turned out nicely, some didn't -- many looked like pictures of big rocks. None, as we implied earlier, could capture the magnificent views, the colors, shading and textures of the granite walls, nor the perspectives of the great heights and distances. Keith wondered what the comparison would be like if California's famous Half Dome from Yosemite National Park could be placed down in this fjord. It might look pretty puny in this setting.
At the end of this installment, we have listed some Internet sites that provide photographs of the Lysefjord area. Unless you have a lot of free time, there are probably too many to view. However we recommend that you check out at least 2 or 3 to get a little better idea of this dramatically scenic area, especially the views from the high elevations where we did not go. Peg recommends the "live cam."
By the time we reached Forsand and disembarked at about 3:30, it had warmed again. Kristian was waiting for us, having driven to meet us in his pick up. We had arranged to tour the prehistoric village of Landa together. A short distance west of the town of Forsand, Landa is a major archeological site. It is the remains of an entire village with the oldest dwellings dating back to about 1500 BC. The area was believed to have been inhabited continuously for more than 2000 years. Now several buildings have been reconstructed on the site, with several more in the planning stage. Our guide was costumed in period dress and seemed quite knowledgeable of her field.
Our guide and her assistant in front of the more "modern" (migration period) wooden meeting halls. >
We toured the various buildings as she explained their construction. Each represented a different era. Moreover, molds had been found of the original bronze hatchets and tools from the bronze age. Interestingly new bronze hatchets were made using the original design and then the workers reconstructing those particular buildings had to use them for further authenticity. This is a popular place for schools to bring groups of children. They often stay overnight in the buildings and experience various aspects of prehistoric living.
< Peg in front of a sod roofed "smithy" workshop from the iron age.
Returning to the Velle's, dinner was a spectacular lamb fricassee of Aud Marit's creation. YUM! Afterward, Kristian drove us to Lars Nag's home for coffee and cake. Lars, you might recall, Keith met through the Internet Norway List and, after comparing notes, found they had ancestors in common and could be considered 11th cousins. We met briefly on the waterfront during the 4th of July celebrations in Stavanger, but had no time to visit. We were invited to their home on the plateau about midway between Jørpeland and Tau. This was near where we had stopped for the scenic panoramic photos you saw earlier (our 1st evening in Jørpeland). Their beautiful home had a similar view.
Lars is an economist for the petroleum industry. His wife, Vera, is a high school science teacher (and an excellent baker of cakes). This tradition of cakes with coffee is WONDERFUL. We also got to meet their son, Ivan, who spoke excellent English and was a most friendly young man. While we were there, Martin Nag joined us. Martin and Lars are cousins and a bit more closely than 11th. Martin and Vera enjoyed speaking Russian to each other. Lars supplied Keith with recent updates from the Norway list since Keith had been off list since our trip. He also gave Keith a printout of Martin Nag's ancestry back to the common ancestor that Lars and Keith share. Yes, this means that Martin and Keith are cousins -- would you believe 10th cousins once removed..? (Should any family member be interested, the common ancestor here is Villum Jonsen Stavanger, born around 1555-60. And guess what? - Stavanger is a "yellow dot" too.)
< Lars, Ivan, Kristian, Peg & Vera.
Peg and Vera got in some good "teacher talk." It seems Vera is being asked to conduct some classes entirely in English. This would be quite a challenge. This gave Peg more ideas to play with in her fantasy of teaching in Norway. It still seems important to know more of the language before you try to teach in the country. It was a pleasant setting and company, but it was time to leave and go back to the Velle's house to pack as we were to leave for Stavanger on the morning ferry from Tau.
For more photos and information on the Lysefjord area, check out any of the following:
Lysefjorden (The Lysefjord) - text in English
Collection of photos of Lysefjorden - text in German
LIVE CAM - Lysefjorden View from Lysebotn (This is looking west down Lysefjorden - this is a "live cam" picture updated every 5 min. - it can be a great view except at night there when all you usually see are a couple of lights on the dock - remember they are 9 hours ahead of Pacific time.) - The BASE Point, Kjerag, site.
3 jumpers going off Kjerag - from the The BASE Point, Kjerag, site.
Lysefjorden View with ferry
Landa settlement and Lysefjorden
Collection of photos of Preikestolen - text in Norwegian
One more recently discovered thanks to a post on the Norway List - Highly recommended:
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